With online fraud becoming more common, what are the ways to keep your money safe?

The Jamtara-esque incidents — an unsuspecting consumer receives a call from a decoy officer who convinces him to share both his account details and the OTP — are now over.

The fraud incidents are not only increasing in number, but also occur in different variants and forms.

For example, the Vadodara police recently received complaints about the internet banking fraud in which victims lost lakhs in rupees. The act was committed by fraudsters by adding beneficiaries to the victims’ bank accounts. And coincidentally, the account holders overlooked the accidental additions.

What is surprising and scary at the same time is that no OTP was sent to the users when the beneficiary was added to their bank accounts.

This is just one way to drain account holders of their money. There are a number of other ways these hackers use to siphon off victims’ money. A common way is to convince them to scan a QR code to ‘receive’ money.

However, users should be aware that a QR code is scanned when someone wants to make a payment and does not want to receive it.

Here we list some points that users should pay attention to to keep fraudsters at bay.

Make note of these points to keep fraudsters at bay:

1. Do not scan the QR code to receive payment.

2 Don’t download an unauthenticated app: Don’t download an unauthenticated app to avoid accessing your device remotely. This can be exploited by fraudsters to steal money through UPI.

3. Watch out for suspicious text messages; Some hackers send illegitimate payment links via SMS. This link will take you to the UPI payment app on your phone. This would prompt you to select one of the direct debit apps. After giving permission, the amount will be debited from your account immediately.

4. Trades with legitimate sounding names: Some hackers even use names like BHIM or SBI on their UPI social page, giving the impression that it is a credible UPI platform.

5. Never share your OTP: Regardless of the banking regulator’s warnings, some fraudsters manage to convince the customers to share OTPs they received on their phones. After it is shared, the fraudsters can verify illegitimate transactions and steal the money.

6. You can even explore the idea of ​​purchasing cyber insurance to minimize your losses in case you fall prey to an untoward incident.

To minimize or eliminate the occurrence of financial fraud, it is important that consumers are aware, and a safe and strong ecosystem is also needed of the hour, says Sugandh Saxena, CEO of FACE (Fintech Association for Consumer Empowerment).

“Customer awareness is certainly vital to prevent fraud, but so is a safer and stronger ecosystem. For example, while customers should be careful when downloading rights-lending apps, the app ecosystem must ensure that apps for illegal lending, falsifying partnerships with regulated entities, and harming customers do not easily enter app stores . There needs to be a robust process to investigate apps for questionable credentials and remove them from app stores, and this requires coordination between all industry stakeholders,” Ms. Saxena added.

“Users must remain very vigilant for fraud. There is a lot of public information available and users need to be constantly educated. Users should be careful about sharing their data and documents, including KYC. They must verify lending apps for their partnership with REs, privacy policies, downloads, rating and review, and complaint recovery mechanism. Just as we monitor and compare all the things we buy, users should take the time and effort to only take loans from apps that are lent through partnerships with regulated entities,” she adds.

If you report your fraud within 3-7 days, you may not get a full refund.

First published: January 18, 2023, 8:03 am IST